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More than 32 pubs disappeared from communities in England and Wales each month in 2022 as rocketing energy bills and staffing pressures forced businesses to shut for the final time. New analysis of official government data by real estate adviser Altus Group found the overall number of pubs slid by 386 during the year. The total number of pubs in England and Wales, including those vacant and being offered to let, fell to 39,787 in December compared with 40,173 at the same point last year. Nevertheless, the number of pubs shutting their doors for good was 13.1% lower than recorded in 2021, reflecting a more resilient year for UK pubgoers despite the turbulent economic backdrop. The latest figures showed 50 pubs shut in Wales over the year. Pubs have been grappling with soaring energy costs, rising food prices and weakened consumer demand throughout the year and predict further challenges in 2023. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) warned earlier this month that venues have already reduced their hours or menus to address these concerns, amid fears many pubs could be forced to shut without further support, particularly regarding energy bills. The data highlights the number of pubs which have disappeared from communities through either being demolished over converted for other use, such as homes or offices. A total of 2,663 pubs have vanished from cities, towns and villages over the past five years. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “While these figures are upsetting, they are unfortunately not surprising. Pubs and brewers are facing extreme challenges, they are doing whatever they can to keep going. Pubs want to stay open and provide a warm and welcoming space for their communities this winter, but urgently need clarity on whether the energy bill relief scheme will be extended, and that suppliers to be held accountable on hidden costs. With rocketing energy costs, soaring inflation, severe labour shortages and plummeting consumer confidence, pubs are being pushed to breaking point we need intervention as soon as possible, otherwise many more will be forced to close, and we’ll lose them from the heart of villages, towns and cities across the UK forever.” Hospitality business were among those to receive energy bill support through the government’s energy bills relief scheme, however the current scheme will run until the end of March. The sector is shrouded by uncertainty over further support, with the government confirming it will announce its next plan to support firms with their energy bills in the new year. (Extracted from Propel 2022)

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